All posts by Clif Sipe

Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

15 New Screensavers for Christmas and New Year

[Windows Only]

Thanksgiving has just ended. Even though I don’t approve of putting up Christmas decorations this early, our friends at NewFreeScreensavers have just added 15 new free screensavers.

I’m sure you can find plenty of other screensavers out there, but be careful to visit only safe websites when you are looking for them. As many of you have learned, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.

nfsNewYearCountdown2 nfsChristmasCandle nfsNewYearClock nfsXmasWords nfsWineandcandles nfsXmas01

nfsXmas02 nfsXmas03 nfsXmas04 nfsXmas05 nfsNewYear01 nfsNewYear02

nfsNewYear03 nfsNewYear04 nfsNewYear05

One of the nice features of these screensavers is that they now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen.

arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

Windows 7 themes?

holiday-lightsIf you have Windows 7, be sure to check out the Holiday Lights theme from Microsoft. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still snag the wallpapers by using this trick.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

20% of Facebook Accounts are Infected?

bitdefender-safegoAccording to BitDefender, 2 out of 10 Facebook Walls (or Newsfeeds) are infected or at risk in some way. In October, BitDefender, a well known anti-virus and security provider, launched a Facebook app called BitDefender safego. Safego scans your Facebook wall posts to determine if there are any links to bad apps or risky links. Here’s a quote from BitDefender:

facebook-infectionBitDefender safego > Since its launch,BitDefender safego has managed to scan 17 million Facebook posts and it has detected infections on the news feeds of around 20% of its users.We are glad we’ve been able to warn our users of these threats and we’ll continue to focus our efforts on adding new security features and increasing our detection rate. Thanks everyone for your feedback and remember: if your friends stay safe, then you’re safe!

In addition to all of Facebook’s privacy problems, everyone should know by now that it’s a huge source of infections for Windows PCs. BitDefender apparently decided that it was time to help warn people about this problem.

The free BitDefender safego app is currently in Beta testing, and you can try it out by visiting the page while logged into Facebook. In addition to the link and app checking abilities of BitDefender safego, it also checks your profile for information that you should not be sharing.

I was fortunate enough to get a clean bill of health from safego, can you say the same thing about your Wall? Give safego a try now to be sure.


Chrome OS Launch in 2011? Rumors of November Launch are Dead

Google ChromeGoogle’s Chrome OS cloudoperating system may be close to release, but it’s slower to launch than previous rumors suggested. (see video: What is Chrome OS?)

We reported the rumors of November launches for a Chrome OS Tablet and Chrome OS Netbooks and Smartbooks. However, during the recent Web 2.0 Summit, all that Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) would say about it was the software is coming out in the next few months.   Since that’s the case, Google has definitely missed the upcoming Christmas shopping and we won’t see Chrome OS until the beginning of 2011.

If you are curious, here’s the latest peek at the Chrome OS wallpaper and screensaver.

(Wallpaper: click to enlarge)

Chrome OS Wallpaper

(Screensaver: click to see animation)

Chrome OS Screensaver

Naturally, these images could change any time before the actual release.

Some people believe that the delays in Chrome OS are due to Android being used in more and more devices. Some say that there isn’t a big demand for a cloud OS that depends entirely on web apps. For a good example of a cloud OS, see Jolicloud.

For those wanting a live preview, you can run this new OS from a USB stick by using the Chrome OS builds by Hexxeh.


Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #26

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In case you haven’t seen them, here are the most recent posts in our Freeware category. We hope you enjoy reading about these freebies, and maybe you’ll find a keeper in the mix.


Free DOCX and XLSX Viewers from SoftMaker

softmaker-icon

If you need a viewer to open the new Microsoft files, SoftMaker offers two new free viewers that open DOCX, XLSX, and many more.

 

Evernote 4 for Windows Updated, Adds OneNote Import Support

evernote_logo

Evernote 4 for Windows has been updated and it adds quite a few new exciting features. First off, it now has improvised search where keywords are highlighted within the notes. Secondly, they have added a new feature which will allow you to import notes for OneNote 2007 and OneNote 2010 and the ability to export your notes as a MHT files.

 

New Snapshot of Opera 11 Introduces Smarter Address Bar and Visual Mouse Gestures

Opera-Address-Bar

The latest snapshot of Opera 11 introduces an improved address bar along with a new mouse gestures interface.

 

xVideoServiceThief: Download And Convert Videos

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XVST is a free open source tool that can download videos from almost 76 popular video websites and convert them to the most popular video and audio formats.

 

Shareaholic a Simple Way to Share Web Pages

shareaholic-icon

If you have a sharing habit, Shareaholic is an addon you need to try. It’s a lot easier than going through a twelve step program to cure your addiction.

 

IDrive Provides 2GB Free Online Space, 150GB Cheap

IDrive Logo

IDrive provides users with 2GB free storage space and 150GB for $4.95 a month. You can also get free 10GB storage space by referring friends.

 

Yahoo Messenger 11 Beta Now Available, Introduces Social Gaming and Networking

Yahoo Messenger 11 Games

Download Yahoo Messenger 11 Beta. Yahoo Messenger 11 Beta brings in social gaming from Zynga, OMGPOP and Elex and allows you to manage your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

 

Are Public Libraries Still at Risk Because of Microsoft?

public-library-icon

Microsoft doesn’t have a good answer, and they don’t seem to care. However, there’s no reason to worry. Using either of my recommendations, a library can avoid the risk.

 

Automatically Set Up Email Accounts in Outlook Express and Live Mail

code2-autoconfig-outlook

Manually adding accounts to an email client is one of the hardest tasks involved with email setup. Outlook AutoConfig can make it painless.

 

Replace Outlook Express with Incredimail

incredimail-icon

Outlook Express is old, insecure and no longer supported by Microsoft. Windows Live Mail and Mozilla Thunderbird are good replacements, but you should also take a look at Incredimail.

 

Replace Outlook Express with Windows Live Mail

wlm-icon

It’s time to upgrade. Outlook Express is old, insecure and no longer supported. Switching to Windows Live Mail is what you need to do.

 

30 New Screensavers More for the PC and Now Mobile Phones

screensaver-ico

In addition to 10 more great screensavers for the PC, animated wallpapers for mobile devices are now available for download.

 

Freeware Friday: Writemonkey

writemonkeytwitter

WriteMonkey is a distraction-free text-only writing environment that is portable, completely customizable and completely free.


Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite freebie you’d like to see posted here. Our comments (below) are always open to you.

Free DOCX and XLSX Viewers from SoftMaker

[Windows]

softmaker-iconSoftMaker, the authors of an MS Office compatible office suite, are offering some free document and spreadsheet viewers.

The document viewer is called TextMaker Viewer and is able to open and view the following file types:

.docx, .docm Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010
.dotx, .dotm Microsoft Word 2007/2010 templates
.doc Microsoft Word 6.0 up to Word 2010
.dot Microsoft Word templates 6.0 up to 2010
.tmd TextMaker 6.0 up to 2010
.tmv TextMaker templates 6.0 up to 2010
.odt OpenDocument Text
.ott OpenDocument Text templates
.sxw OpenOffice.org/StarOffice Text
.rtf Rich Text Format
.psw Pocket Word (Pocket PC)
.pwd Pocket Word (Handheld PC)
.htm, .html HTML documents
.txt Plain-text files

textmaker-viewer

The spreadsheet viewer is called PlanMaker Viewer and it can view the following filetypes:

.xlsx, .xlsm Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010
.xltx, .xltm Microsoft Excel 2007/2010 templates
.xls Microsoft Excel 5.0 up to Word 2010
.xlt Microsoft Excel templates 5.0 up to 2010
.pmd PlanMaker 2001 up to 2010
.pmv PlanMaker templates 2001 up to 2010
.pmw PlanMaker 1.0, 2.0, 97
.sdc StarCalc 1.0, 2.0
.slk SYLK files
.rtf Rich Text Format
.dbf dBASE files
.txt, .csv, .prn Plain-text files

planmaker-viewer

Both TextMaker Viewer and PlanMaker Viewer will run under Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 2000.

arrow-down-double-3 Download SoftMaker Viewers here

If you’d like to see other ways to open, view and edit MS Office files, take a look at some of this post:   Free Microsoft Office Alternatives


Shareaholic – a Simple Way to Share Web Pages

shareaholic-iconThe name of this web browser addon tells you who it helps. If you are addicted to sharing cool links or awesome images in Twitter, Facebook or any other social web service, Shareaholic could help.

I tried it out, and it’s helped my sharing output already. Shareaholic supports sending content to over 100 different services.

Services

It’s easy to install and use. Just point your web browser to the Shareaholic home page, and install the plugin. They support Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari, Opera, Flock and Songbird.

Mozilla Firefox Google Chrome Internet Explorer 8 Safari Opera Flock Songbird Music Player

Once installed, you’ll be prompted to customize it, so that it shows only the services that you use. Clicking on he Shareaholic icon in your browser will bring up the sharing menu.

shareaholic-menu

You might have noticed from the image above, that you can assign keyboard shortcut keys for each service. You can also use it to shorten long URLs. That’s really handy. I also like the simple posts it creates.

shareaholic-post

If you need more details, watch this video about Shareaholic.

If you have a sharing habit, Shareaholic is an addon you need to try. It’s a lot easier than going through a twelve step program to cure your addiction.

arrow-down-double-3Install the Shareaholic Addon/Extension

Note: We previously wrote about Shareaholic almost a year ago. You may also want to check out a similar addon called AddToAny.


Are Public Libraries Still at Risk Because of Microsoft?

A reason to panic?

public-library-iconBack in April of this year, Yardena Arar posted an article at Windows Secrets titled Microsoft decision puts public libraries at risk.

What did Microsoft do that puts libraries at risk?

They retired Windows SteadyState. In case you haven’t heard about it, SteadyState is a free application for Windows XP and Vista which completely protects a Windows operating system from everything except a hardware crash. It makes Windows almost bullet-proof. Thousands of home users, internet cafes, schools and public libraries depend on SteadyState for protection. However, it won’t be available for Windows 7.

According to Yardena,

… not only is SteadyState incompatible with Win7, Microsoft says it has no plans to introduce a Windows 7-compatible version. That’s leaving some IT managers scrambling for replacement technology and others vowing not to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.

Windows SteadyState is going away?

I recently discovered that it’s not only unavailable for Win7, SteadyState won’t be available after Dec 31st of this year. That’s a twisted Happy New Year’s wish to everyone wanting to use it on XP or Vista. If you plan on using it, be sure to download SteadyState from Microsoft, before it’s too late.

Are there alternatives to SteadyState?

If you settled for the answer given in that Windows Secrets post, you’d give up. In the article, Yardena says:

Third-party solutions, such as Faronics’ Deep Freeze, don’t appeal to cash-strapped educational institutions, which are already spending considerable money upgrading to Windows 7.

Worse yet, if you listen to Microsoft, they’ll tell you that you don’t need it. Here’s the Microsoft spin:

We have just released a whitepaper along with an accompanying document that describes Group Policy settings that you can use to configure computer and user settings and also a reference excel worksheet which can be used to look up and filter the settings described in the whitepaper. (source)

What a load of techno-crap! Does Microsoft think a librarian, teacher, cyber-café owner, or home user is going to read their white papers?

What is my suggestion for replacing SteadyState?

Fortunately, a security company named Comodo, recently released a free replacement for Windows SteadyState. As far as I can tell, Comodo Time Machine does nearly everything SteadyState does. It’s currently supported and works in Windows XP, Vista and 7.

arrow-down-double-3Download Comodo Time Machinecomodo-time-machine-icon_thumb

If you are interested in Comodo’s offer, check out this Video Review of Time Machine.

Why do we need Windows?

Why does a public library need to depend upon Microsoft for all of their software needs? The answer from any Open Source enthusiast would be Get rid of Windows!. If you need some arguments to use against your library’s or school’s addiction to Microsoft, be sure to read about Windows 7 Sins: The case against Microsoft and proprietary software

Use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)

If a librarian or teacher came to me and asked about setting up several public computers , I’d have two ready answers for them. I could save them money and practically guarantee that they wouldn’t have any spyware or virus problems.

edubuntu-icon1. I’d burn a set of Live CD’s with Edubuntu on them. They could disable the hard drives and put these in the CD Rom drives. Whenever the PC boots up, they’d have a fresh new operating system that’s ready to use and kid-proof.

2. I could also install Edubuntu on each PC normally, as this old timer shows in a video.

Conclusion:

Microsoft doesn’t have the answer, and they don’t seem to care. However, there’s no reason to worry.   Using either of my recommendations, secure and trouble-free public PCs can be created at no cost.

Automatically Set Up Email Accounts in Outlook Express and Live Mail

It’s not a coincidence that I ran across this cool freeware app today. After reading about my advice to replace Outlook Express with Windows Live Mail, my friend Bob Constans sent me a tip about CodeTwo Outlook AutoConfig.

What is Outlook AutoConfig?

According to the author it’s …

a free tool that will automatically create your email account in Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail just by providing your email address.

That’s right, all you do is launch it, enter your email address, name and client.

Here’s what it looks like.

code2-autoconfig-outlook

Outlook AutoConfig will look up the email provider in it’s database and automatically configure your email client to use the correct settings. If it doesn’t work on your provider, you can contact the author to have your provider added to the database.

The next time you launch your email, you will be prompted to enter the password for the account.

autoconfig2

arrow-down-double-3 Download Outlook Autoconfig [Windows 7 / Vista / 2003 / XP / 2000]

Techie Buzz Verdict:

Manually adding accounts to an email client is one of the toughest tasks involved with email setup. Outlook AutoConfig can make it painless. Since it’s a stand-alone program, no installation is needed and it’s simple to use. I highly recommend it.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1


Replace Outlook Express with Incredimail

incredimail-iconYesterday, I told you why you should upgrade Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail. My main concern is that Outlook Express is old, and that it’s no longer supported by Microsoft. People will continue to have problems with OE, and it’s never going to improve. Almost any new email client would be better right now. So, if you don’t like Windows Live Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird, you might like Incredimail.

What’s so great about Incredimail?

Many people might tell you that Incredimail was designed for teen-aged girls. However, it’s flexible and even the more conservative email users can enjoy it. Once you look past the eye-candy filled interface, you might agree.

Here’s what the website says about this free email client:

  • Send beautiful email backgrounds
  • Add 1000’s of fun emoticons to your emails
  • Enjoy animated email notifiers
  • See exciting 3D effects in your emails
  • Add funny animations to your emails
  • Add cool sounds to your email messages

Install and Setup

Once you’ve downloaded Incredimail and start the install, there’s one screen that I’ll warn you about. As you can see below, Incredimail offers to change your default search engine and install a search toolbar. I haven’t found anything bad about these additions, and it’s up to you if you want them. You can remove them by clicking the Custom Installationbutton, and unchecking the filled check-boxes.

incredimail-setup

Setting up your existing email accounts is easy. If you are already using Outlook Express, You can import your correct email account configuration. When I installed it, this happened automatically and Incredimail was ready to use immediately.

Here’s a quick preview of what the Incredimail client looks like while it’s running.

incredimail-interface

There are tons of ways to customize the emails that you send. Here’s one I sent to my wife.

incredimail-sent

If you’d like to learn more about Incredimail, check out this video.

arrow-down-double-3 Download Incredimail (WinXP, Vista, 7)


Replace Outlook Express with Windows Live Mail

How much do you love your Outlook Express email? I subscribe to several newsletters and other various help sites. One of the applications that I see people asking about often is Outlook Express. There always seems to be someone having problems with it.

wlm-iconI used it for several years myself, and I remember having   a few problems too. I think it’s time for people to leave Outlook Express behind. If you agree that it’s time to try something new, I have a suggestion for you; upgrade to Windows Live Mail (WLM).

Why would it be a good idea to change?

Microsoft designed Windows Live Mail as a replacement for Outlook Express 6. You could say that it’s Outlook Express 7 and you wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

It’s a good idea to keep your software upgraded to the latest supported versions. Outlook Express is no longer supported by Microsoft. Unsupported software is typically more vulnerable to attack by hackers.

WLM has more features. You can add MS Messenger, RSS Feeds and a Calendar with reminders.

Is it hard to switch from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail?

It’s easy. The first thing WLM does when it installs, is to look for an existing version of Outlook Express. It will automatically import all of your contacts, settings and old mail. If you decide you don’t like it, you can uninstall it and Outlook Express will still be there.

wlm-1

wlm-2

Do you need help?

You may not need it, but here’s a   tutorial on installing WLM.

Here’s a video showing how easy it is to use Windows Live Mail.

Here is Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of the video.

arrow-down-double-3 Download Windows Live Mail for XP

arrow-down-double-3 Download Windows Live Mail for Vista and Seven

If you decide to use WLM, be sure to check out our article about backing it up and restoring it.